It’s the IVF outcome you don’t ever want to think about.
You’ve worked so hard, paid so much, missed days of work, and endured great emotional and physical trauma…all hoping for one result. A baby.
Success rates for IVF are at their highest, (read the national IVF data set here) and the technology and care are only getting better and better. But still, there are those occurrences where IVF fails. Regardless of whether or not you know the “why,” it hurts deeply. After thousands of dollars spent, years of your life devoted, and nothing on the other side, you might feel cheated, scammed, and slighted.
Here’s a NOT-fun fact: IVF is not a guarantee.
Actually, it’s a horrible, no-good, very unfortunate (albeit true) fact. IVF is a service to assist you in getting what you want. No matter where you’re seeking treatment though, you should be given the full picture: what are the odds that you’ll walk away pregnant? (Read Illume Fertility's latest success rates here.) The good news is that technology such as an Endometrial Receptivity Analysis, otherwise known as ERA testing, now exists and can improve success rates. But other factors like age or egg quality can work against even the best technologies available. So, as you begin a journey into family building via assisted reproductive technologies (IVF, IUI, etc.), keep in mind:
Your clinic should be up front with you about your potential outcomes.
Because sometimes, even with the best technology and highest chances for success, it just doesn’t work out. Enter that defeated, cheated feeling again…
Maybe the biggest cost of a failed IVF cycle? Hope.
Natural Pregnancy after Fertility Treatment
However, there’s finally a new reason to feel hopeful after a failed IVF cycle. A recent study found that 17% of women who had a failed IVF cycle found themselves pregnant naturally within five years.
I repeat, NATURALLY.
This study is receiving major buzz across the industry and is hopefully a beacon of light for those who feel like their chances of achieving a successful pregnancy are in the rear view mirror - because that may not be the case!
Dr. Spencer Richlin, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Illume Fertility, finds the silver lining in this study, providing you his words of both science and comfort:
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an amazing technology that has helped countless people family build. The process and success of IVF has improved dramatically over the past fifteen years. In my professional life, I have been amazed at the success and progress of IVF. The indications for IVF include male infertility, tubal and pelvic factor disease, age factor, and menstrual cycle irregularities. In addition, there are couples who do not have an identifiable reason for not becoming pregnant who are “unexplained” who are successful with IVF.
With recent advances, we can biopsy day 5 embryos (blastocysts) before we replace them back into the uterus and screen these embryos for diseases and to make sure they have 23 pairs or 46 chromosomes. This technology, called Preimplantation Genetic Testing, is incredible.
Every day of my life, I review the pros and cons of IVF with my patients. Before we embark on an IVF cycle, I have my patients complete a “basic infertility” evaluation. This may include a semen analysis, pelvic ultrasound, an evaluation of their uterine cavity and fallopian tubes, and a couple of blood tests which reflect their ovarian reserve or “egg health.” Based on these results I can often prognosticate if they will be successful on an IVF cycle.
As a reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon, what I want most for my patients is for them to become pregnant and start family building. At the same time, I want them to have an experience centered around respect.
There are patients who are not successful with IVF. Usually, I know why they are not successful. Most of the time advancing female age and lower egg quality is the reason. When one of my patients does not become pregnant, I am truly concerned and take it to heart.
Some patients stop treatment after IVF does not work. I tell all my patients not to give up. “You can become pregnant on your own.” “Keep as positive thoughts as you can.” “Don’t give up.” “Anything can happen.”
The Study from The University of Aberdeen substantiates this. I have seen patients of mine and our practice have success after IVF did not work and become pregnant. When this happens, I am ecstatic. Why? Because seeing our patients build their families and fulfill such a blessing is what it is all about.
Maybe the unnaturalness of IVF was not a great match for a particular patient or couple. Natural pregnancy was just what the Doctor ordered.
For patients who have an unsuccessful IVF cycle, I recommend:
- Find the right support for you, whether it's family, friends, or even a fertility counselor.
- When ready, review your previous cycle with your REI.
- Map out a plan for next steps and decide if it includes another IVF cycle.
- Before your next cycle, think about adding acupuncture, nutrition, or even fertile yoga into your schedule.
Once you decide what is right for you, go for it!!
-Dr. Spencer Richlin
Hope in the Form of Data
People often think that conceiving naturally is no longer an option for them once they seek fertility treatment. But according to the latest research, that’s simply not the case. Nearly 1 in 5 women are finding themselves naturally pregnant within 5 years following a failed IVF cycle.
Those are real statistics. Real pregnancies. Real hope.
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Virginia Hamilton Furnari is Illume Fertility's former Brand Specialist. In addition to helping mold the Illume Fertility brand through blogs, videos, and events, she was also a patient at Illume. Given her professional and personal involvement in the fertility community, she has immersed her mind, body, and soul in family-building education.